Kelly Gallagher and guide Gary Smith competing at IPC alpine skiing World Cup Finals February 2016

Kelly Gallagher and guide Gary Smith competing at IPC alpine skiing World Cup Finals February 2016

Charlotte announced this morning that she will no longer guide, I know it has been a weighty decision for Charlotte to step away from competitive sport and I have been happy to support her in her decisions, as we have strived successfully to be a team in everything we do. With Charlotte’s help during these past four years, I’ve been able to progress from representing the country internationally at Vancouver 2010 coming 4th and 6th in GS and slalom respectively, to challenging for the top spot and ultimately winning Gold at Sochi 2014. Together, our success on snow has had a positive impact for funding for all of disabled snowsport and brought about a change in people’s perceptions of what an athlete and guide can achieve on and off snow. It is with great pride that I reflect on Charlotte and my accomplishments. To be crowned Paralympic Champions, Britain’s first ever athletes to win gold on snow, able bodied or disabled, man or woman, is just such the highlight. The milestones along the way have required dedication and perseverance from us both, winning Britain’s first world championship medals in alpine skiing, and continuing to amass a total of six world championship medals. Winning our first World Cup, overcoming injury, being nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the year 2014 and of course, being awarded an MBE. I look forward to continuing to succeed in the sport I love and wish the best for Charlotte in everything she endeavours.

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It has been nearly a year since our last update. A lot has happened. (a massive understatement). We’ve loved sharing all the news through our Facebook page and Twitter accounts (here and here) and speaking to anyone and everyone who wants to hear about our amazing sport and progress. Here is one example.

This update feels like it requires a more detailed post.

Last time we were on snow together was on 13th January. Charlotte and I were working on gliding, which every ski racer works on for Downhill and Super G training. As a pair, we also work on our spacing over the flats and transition from steep to flat terrain. Spacing of athlete and guide is a characteristic unique to visually impaired ski racing since this category of the sport involves two people on the same course trying to be as close to one another as possible, rather than one racer. If Charlotte becomes too far ahead, from steep to flat or by accelerating across the flats, she has to slow down because I have to communicate with her via my headset to let her know that I cannot see, by which time we’ve lost speed and usually don’t have an opportunity to regain that on the flats. I am heavier than Charlotte, too, so when we are on the flats and tight together, I can end up drafting in her slipstream. This is a situation that we practise and explore often. It is a delicate skill and involves a great deal of communication and time on snow together.

Charlotte and I have been skiing together for over five years, during which time we’ve had lots of bumps, crashes and falls. Most of those have been me. This time, however, I injured Charlotte. I clipped the back of her skis, while moving from right to left as I was drafting in her slipstream. Both of us fell, but Charlotte fell very hard. At first instance I thought she had reinjured her ACL, as knees are every skier’s worst fear when injured! Initially Charlotte couldn’t communicate anything about her own fall because – ever the professional guide – she was asking me how I was! (I was totally fine!). At the scene it appeared that Charlotte had hurt her left shoulder, maybe a subluxation or dislocation.

I know Charlotte very well. She doesn’t complain, ever, so if she ever does, it’s serious. She also hates fuss, so persuading her to go to the doctor or hospital straight away was difficult. She knows her own mind too, so it’s extra hard to boss her about and tell her she’s going to hospital. In hindsight, I should’ve bossed her about more and been more stern about calling a day to the training session, but it is very hard to do so when you’re focused athletes training together for world champs. As a result, I didn’t notice the gravity of the accident.

Only after spending the rest of the day skiing together, followed by a night’s sleep and finally a trip to the doctor in Austria, did we learn that Charlotte may have suffered a concussion. Sure enough, when we returned to London and sought medical help from the EIS doctor, we found out that Charlotte had suffered a serious concussion and is now, a month on, still recovering and unfit to return to activity or snow.

Concussion is horrible! I’ve had at least three.

We have experienced and overcome many physical injuries together. From strained ligaments to hip surgery to bone bruises to surgical dentistry to loss of hearing, the list is extensive. Some of the crashes and falls were dramatic; some were trivial. Some lingered on and became chronic injuries, and some recovered so well that we forgot about the whole incident. Concussion is different, in that it’s unique to each person and, the first time, it is terribly scary. People’s reaction to hearing you have a concussion is totally different in comparison to their reaction if they see you on crutches in an air boot. I think that’s because they can relate to injury of a bone break or a strained ligament or bruised muscle, but with concussion, they can’t understand the nausea, confusion, inability to concentrate, frustration, the ebb and flow of energy, sensitivity to light, noise and smells and the lack of confidence in when you’re going to feel better. It is really misunderstood.

Since last year’s Games, all we’ve been asked is about our next event. “When will you compete next?”; “World champs – when are they, where are they?” and the inevitable…”Do you think you’ll win?”

We are as focused as ever on competing to the best of our abilities, and we know that our best is really great. However since 13th January our main focus and that of our families and medical team (physiotherapists, psychologist and doctor) is more focused on Charlotte’s long term well being than what we can achieve in March in Canada at World Championships.

In the hope that Charlotte will be fit to return to snow soon and that we pull off the most miraculous end to a ski season ever, I am getting ready to “compete” next week in at least one of the EC finals. Ross, our coach, is stepping into the role of guide! I’m delighted that he has kept our dream of competing at World Champs alive, and the purpose of the upcoming race is to enable me to fulfil the eligibility criteria from the IPC which states that I have to have achieve race points in the 2014/15 season. Mine and Charlotte’s form is fine, so the race points don’t matter for qualification, it’s just a funny little hurdle we need to overcome. And in the meantime, Charlotte can remain in England as she continues to recover.

Of course, this could all be in vain. Next week the advice from EIS could be that Charlotte is still not able to take on guiding or racing at World Champs.

Once again we aren’t ashamed to throw everything we’ve got at our performance plan and just see how it goes.

Leaving Sochi, knowing that we had put in 100% effort meant that, whatever the results, we were happy. That’s how we approach our sport.

When Charlotte is allowed to use a computer again, or her telephone, she can tell this in her own words and write a blog post from her perspective.

Oh, and….as a funny little aside….feel free to send us all your inspirational memes and quotes! Our friends have been sending us some really cheesy ones of late – you know the ones like, “fall 7 times, get back up 8”, etc. But this one has been my favourite so far……..#Glee #notrelated

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Our supportive friends and children that Charlotte coaches have had an amazing fundraising idea to ski the 1928 miles between London and Sochi!

That is quite a challenge and equates to 19,393 runs! So we are travelling to Hemel Hempstead on Saturday 7th December to take part, meet you all, and present raffle prizes. We would love to have your help too!

Participants will be required to pay £20 on the day for use of slope / lift pass / equipment hire.

We’d like all participants to raise as much sponsorship money as possible over the next 30 days from family, friends and work colleagues. Sponsorship money can be uploaded here
https://www.justgiving.com/local/project/londontosochi

Skiers and boarders who want to take part in the challenge ride as many runs as possible over a period of 6 hours.
As many runs as possible to be completed at ‘The Snow Centre’ Hemel Hempstead, with any remaining distance to be skied in a period up to 31st January 2014.

DATE : SATURDAY 7TH DECEMBER 2013
WHERE : ‘The Snow Centre’, Hemel Hempstead http://www.thesnowcentre.com
TIME : 16.00 HRS – 22.00 HRS

For further information and registration details please contact: Jo Moore jomoore2013@outlook.com
Mobile 07841 748 144

Or admin@kelly-Gallagher.co.uk

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Tignes – July 2013

July 30, 2013

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We are in Tignes, France for our first ski since hip surgery and of the 2013/14 season! It’s very exciting! Here are some photos of our first day on the mountain.

We’ve got us forgetting proper shoes on a hike, balancing while eating cherries on the hottest, busiest train from Chambery to Bourg St. Maurice, and a bunch of shots from skiing and recovery today!

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So, we’ve been terrible at updating our blog! Our reasons and excuses include, terrible internet connections, and lots of races. We have lots of news and a season’s worth of fun to cram into this update.

We are however, really are great at updating our facebook page, www.facebook.com/kellyandcharlotte and we’re usually tweeting on twitter, www.twitter.com/charevans1 and www.twitter.com/kellygallagher so for photos, fun and race results it’s best to catch us there.

This season, to avoid burnout, we chose to compete in selected Europa Cup and World Cup races focusing on the 2013 alpine skiing World Championships in La Molina, Spain and concentrating on progressing from technical skiing (GS and slalom) into speed, by competing in all five disciplines, (Downhill, Super-G and Super-Combined too).

We’ve entered 28 races. Four were cancelled, seven races resulted in a DNF, (‘that’s ski racing’) and of the remaining 17 races we achieved THREE gold, EIGHT silver, and SIX bronze medals. So it is fair to say that our season has been successful.

We’ve had times of struggle too. Cancelled races, a string of DNFs, and a season of 2nd and 3rd frustrating place finishes, not racing as well as we train. However, we’ve worked through each obstacle and challenge together, it’s been tough.

Our season ended on a real high, with gold and happiness at the World Cup finals in one of our favourite events, slalom. This triumph was made even sweeter because this is the Paralympic hill in Sochi, Russia. We’re excited to begin the 2013/14 paralympic season, and go back to Sochi to race and achieve our goals.

Pitztal EC GS 2nd

Pitztal EC GS 2nd

Pitztal EC slalom 2nd

Pitztal EC slalom 2nd

Lenk EC 2nd slalom

Lenk EC 2nd slalom

Lenk EC2nd GS

Lenk EC 2nd GS1

lenk EC GS 2nd again

lenk EC GS 2nd again

Panorama of Sestriere World Cup prize giving, 2 bronze medals here in GS and frustration in slalom with 2 DNFs

Panorama of Sestriere World Cup prize giving, 2 bronze medals here in GS and frustration in slalom with 2 DNFs

Tarvisio EC DH 2nd

Tarvisio EC DH 2nd

Tarvisio EC SG 3rd

Tarvisio EC SG 3rd

Tignes EC 1st SG

Tignes EC 1st SG & 1st DH too

our four world championship medals!

our four world championship medals!

long awaited World Cup Gold

long awaited World Cup Gold

happy girls!

happy girls!

really happy girls

really happy girls

Happiness, girls who've just won FOUR medals at World Champs

Happiness, girls who’ve just won FOUR medals at World Champs

We’ve been here in Hintertux for two weeks.

view from our hotel room

view from our hotel room

It’s fair to say summer training is going well. We’ve had some great feedback from our coaches Hiro and Euan and are feeling more confident on skis.

The snow conditions haven’t been amazing, it’s sad to see the glacier deteriorate like this, fingers crossed it’ll be awesome conditions this winter. we’ve been waterskiing in the afternoon 🙂

Waterskiing

Waterskiing in the afternoons

We’ve had a really great time with our teammates this camp and since its summer training, we’ve been off the hill early and had lots of time to get out and about and catch a tan, play on a trampoline, swim at the outdoor pool, have a BBQ, wonder around Innsbruck, play in glacier waterfalls and eating ice creams.

Newbie Guide to John is Mr. Ross Walker, working out at the pool

Newbie Guide to John is Mr. Ross Walker, working out at the pool

Extreme planking

Extreme planking

Back to the Sports Institute Northern Ireland now with extra motivation for training

At the waterfall

At the waterfall

Millie, Tom Robinson, Ross Walker, Ben Sneesby, Kelly Gallagher ,Tim Farr, and Ben Kinnear bombing in the background

Millie, Tom Robinson, Ross Walker, Ben Sneesby, Kelly Gallagher, Tim Farr, and Ben Kinnear bombing in the background

Euan Bennett, Charlotte Evans, Kelly Gallagher, Ross Walker, John Dickinson-Lilley, Millie Knight

Euan Bennett, Charlotte Evans, Kelly Gallagher, Ross Walker, John Dickinson-Lilley, Millie Knight

GOOD TIMES!!!!

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Or download as a PDF document

SINI Irish News Article Kelly Gallagher

Kelly and Charlotte were presented with these glass engraved medals in recognition of their 3rd overall titles on the Europa Cup circuit.

Kelly and Charlotte 3rd Overall in Europe

Kelly and Charlotte 3rd Overall in Europe

The girls came 2nd in Giant Slalom today and are pleased with this season’s performance. They’re enjoying these last few races, with Kelly’s Mum, Margaret coming along to support the girls in their last races and Kelley and Debbie observing from SINI.

The girls will compete in five more races this weekend to finish the season, 2 Super-G, 2 Super-Combined and one more slalom.

British Disabled "ladies" Ski Team

Charlotte, Kelly, Coach Kiwi Jane, Anna

A Special St. Patrick’s Day for Kelly and Charlotte, SINI and Mummy Gallagher

Support from Sports Institute Northern Ireland helping Kelly and Charlotte in 2011

Kelley Fay - Sports psych, Charlotte & Kelly, Debbie Hanna - Performance Co-ordinator

Kelly and Charlotte won their first gold medal in slalom today. Kelly spoke to the Sports Institute Northern Ireland after their win Read the SINI press release,  SINI Press Release – Kelly and Charlotte win Slalom Gold

Kelly & Charlotte 1st in slalom at Europa Cup Finals

Kelly & Charlotte 1st in slalom at Europa Cup Finals

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